DETROIT — The performance of one man can influence a generation.
Retired goaltender Dominik Hasek — who played 16 seasons in the NHL including four seasons with the Red Wings — will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this weekend. Out of the league since 2008, his impact on the game still sends ripples through the Wings’ dressing room.
“Dominik was our hero in Czech,” Wings goalie Petr Mrazek said. “He won two Stanley Cups and won the Nagano Olympics for us in 1998. He was a hero for everyone.”
A star in his native Czechoslovakia, Hasek posted 389 wins in the NHL, which remains ranked No. 11 in league history, and led the league in save percentage a remarkable six times. He also led the Czech Republic to the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Hasek won the Vezina Trophy as best goaltender in the NHL six times during his NHL career, tying him for second most all time behind Montreal’s Jacques Plante. Hasek, who helped the Red Wings capture the 2002 Stanley Cup, is the only goaltender to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in consecutive seasons, doing so in 1996-97 and again in 1997-98.
“When Dom played, I was watching his games and watching when they won the Cup,” Mrazek said. “When I was young and growing up, he was everyone’s idol.”
Hasek is among the franchise’s all-time goaltending leaders, ranked No. 8 in wins (114) and No. 4 in shutouts (20). His 2.13 goals-against average ranks best among Red Wings goalies with more than 150 games played.
“Extremely competitive person,” said Niklas Kronwall, who played with Hasek in Detroit during the 2003-04 season and again from 2006 to 2008.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody work harder than him in practice,” Kronwall included. “He was not happy letting goals in even in practice. That’s what really stands out about Dom, how competitive he was. And he didn’t look like any other goaltender. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anyone like him.”
Mike Modano will join Hasek along with Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Pat Burns and Bill McCreary as the Hall of Fame class of 2014.
Modano began his amateur hockey career in metro Detroit with the Little Caesars hockey program before becoming the most-prolific American goal scorer in NHL history, producing 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 career games. He finished his 22-season NHL career with his hometown Red Wings in the 2010-11 season when he scored four goals with 11 assists in 40 games.
Modano’s the second Michigan-born player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mark Howe, who was inducted three years ago, was the first.
The inductions of Hasek and Modano – which will occur during a ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 17 – brings the number of individuals with ties to the Wings’ franchise to 75 enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“I’m happy I can be here and getting better every day with these guys here,” Mrazek said. “Being in the Red Wings organization, a lot of great players and legends played here so it’s an honor to be here.”
Mrazek was called up from Grand Rapids to replace Jonas Gustavsson who was injured in New York on Wednesday. The Wings are in the midst of a four-game home stand where they’ve picked up three points in the first two games. They won’t play again until Friday, giving the Wings four days between games — the longest stretch between games thus far.
An extended period of down time may not bode well for a power play that was just starting to settle into a groove. The Wings have scored six power-play goals in the last three games after scoring just five in their first 12 games.
With that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
FRIDAY vs. CHICAGO (8-6-1):
Goalie - CHI
GAA: 1.75 | Sv%: .932
The first of two meetings between these Original Six teams, the former Central Division rivals split the series last season with one win apiece. Before that, the Blackhawks had won the last seven meetings, going 8-0-2 in their last 10 games against the Wings. The Blackhawks have posted the NHL’s best 1.87 goals against per game, meaning they play tough, physical defense and are hard to score on. Much of their defensive success can be credited to stellar goaltending and their 91.1 percent efficiency on the penalty kill. Chicago poses a tremendous offensive threat averaging 38.0 shots on goal per game – first in the NHL and four more than the next highest team. Friday’s matchup will be an interesting one, however, as the Wings allow the fourth-fewest at 26.8 shots per game.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Goalie Corey Crawford is entering his fifth full season with the Blackhawks and seems to be hitting his stride. While his record is not that impressive at 5-3-1, his individual stats are remarkable. Crawford has a 1.75 goals against average which ranks fourth in the NHL and a .932 save percentage. The 29-year-old has recorded 30 or more wins in three of the last four seasons, the only exception being the lockout-shortened 48-game season. Crawford is lights out against the Wings with a 12-1-3 record over the last four seasons. He has not lost a regular-season game in regulation to the Wings since April 10, 2011.
SUNDAY vs. MONTREAL (10-4-1):
Left Wing - MON
Goals: 6 | Assists: 4 | Pts: 10
Shots: 54 | +/-: 7
The second meeting between these two teams, the Wings will look to exact revenge after losing in Montreal last month, 2-1 in overtime. Despite being held scoreless through the first 56 minutes of that game, Montreal rallied late to defend its home ice and won its third straight game against the Wings. The Canadiens have posted an impressive record and are in second place in the Atlantic Division despite averaging just 2.20 goals per game, which ranked 27th in the NHL. They are undefeated when scoring the first goal (4-0-0) and were 37-3-5 last season when getting out to an early start, so getting out of the gate quickly will be key for the Red Wings.
PLAYER TO WATCH: A member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, forward Max Pacioretty is coming off of a career-high in goals (39), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (11) from the 2013-14 season. The former University of Michigan Wolverine is tied for the Canadiens’ team-lead with 10 points. He is in his seventh season for Montreal and has led the team in points for three consecutive seasons. Pacioretty had the primary assist on David Desharnias’ game-winning overtime goal against the Wings last month and has three goals and five points in his last six games against Detroit.